The fallout from a single crash can reach untold victims not even present at the scene
THE WOODLANDS, TX (January 18, 2017) – Recently, an horrific traffic accident occurred on Houston’s Southwest Freeway when Victor Manuel Garcia drove his large truck the wrong way, causing a chain reaction that left one woman dead and numerous others injured, including a three-year-old girl critically. Garcia was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter.
“Actually, to call this an ‘accident’ is a misnomer,” said Mike Seiler, a Woodlands-based criminal and civil defense attorney. “Incidents such as this can impact many more people than those who were involved in the actual occurrence.”
Seiler likens intoxicated driving incidents to a pebble thrown into a pond’s calm surface. “The ripples radiate outward from that one epicenter, and it’s a lot of time and distance before those ripples finally dissipate.”
In the case of Victor Garcia, it will be some time before the full effects are felt on all parties involved – some of whom that don’t even know they are involved. “Assuming Garcia is found guilty, he will be directly responsible – criminally – for the physical damage, injury and death he caused,” said Seiler. “Additionally, he can be sued in civil court to provide financial recompense to all of his victims.”
Seiler has been on all sides of the courtroom – as judge, prosecutor and defender. He points out that, because the standard of proof is different in a civil case than a criminal case, it is much more likely to be held financially accountable for a DWI even if the accused is cleared of criminal charges. “Look at the O.J. Simpson case; the criminal prosecution couldn’t establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, they were able to establish a civil preponderance of the evidence, and Simpson was found liable for the deaths he was accused of, even though he was acquitted in criminal court.”
Beyond the perpetrator of a DWI and the victims directly impacted by it, the circles can spread to others who are miles and hours away from the incident. “A bar owner or restaurant manager – and the people working who did the serving – can be held criminally and civilly liable for contributing to the incident,” said Seiler. “These people are in need of proper legal counsel as much as the accused and the victims.”
The ripples spreading from the DWI can have long-lasting and profound effects on all involved. “If the accused is convicted, they will have significant issues in their current or future employment, as well as their finances. The victims may have physical injury and/or emotional trauma that will need addressing for months or years to come. If you’re involved any way – directly or indirectly – in any aspect of a DWI, it is vital that you immediately secure legal counsel to mitigate the damage.”
Mike Seiler is an attorney specializing in criminal and civil defense for Montgomery County and surrounding areas. He is one of very few attorneys in the region that have enjoyed successful careers in all three aspects of a courtroom – prosecutor, judge and defender. For more information on Seiler, visit www.theseilerlawfirm.com or call (281) 419-7770.